KC rookie is off to flying start at wide receiver

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Dwayne Bowe showed up late for his first practice as a professional football player, a rookie minicamp a few days after Kansas City made the LSU wide receiver its first-round pick. Then he dropped the first pass thrown to him. Then he dropped the third and fourth.

When the sad, comical footage rolled across television screens that evening, groans when up all over town. The same gang that had mined such notable first-round busts out of the college draft as Trezelle Jenkins and Ryan Sims had obviously struck again.

Now, just four games into the season, he's no longer the late-arriving, fumble-fingered rookie.

He's become the Bowe Show.

He's the big, fast and boastful pass-catcher who scored the Chiefs' only two offensive touchdowns in their first three games -- one on an artful, acrobatic catch in the corner of the end zone when he ran the wrong route and literally stole a TD catch away from tight end Tony Gonzalez.

"I caused him a little havoc the first game," the grinning rookie said of the eight-time Pro Bowler. "Now I'm going to try to open (the field) up for him."

He's the exciting, excitable kid who set a team rookie record last week with 164 yards receiving. He leads AFC rookies with 18 catches and tops all NFL rookies with 299 yards receiving.

His 51-yard catch-and-run for the tiebreaking TD in a 30-16 victory at San Diego last week has KC tied atop the AFC West at 2-2 as it hosts Jacksonville on Sunday in search of a third straight win in a season that looked lost in mid-September.

"I'm just going to continue to go out there and do what I've been doing and hope that it pays off," said the 6-2, 220-pounder who hits like a linebacker and leaps like a gazelle.

Just how high is your vertical leap, someone asked?

"A lot higher on Sundays than it is on Mondays or Tuesdays," he said with a wink.

Coach Herm Edwards has talked to Bowe about toning down his braggadocio ("I made a great catch!" he exclaimed after scoring the winning TD against Minnesota).

And he's doing his best.

"I give all the credit to the offensive line and the quarterback," he said more than once this week. "I was always taught to go out there and do whatever I could do to help my team win, just throw my body out there on the block or take a hit or whatever it takes."

Like everyone else who was there that chilly, overcast afternoon last spring, Edwards vividly remembers how lost and out of place Bowe looked in his first practice.

"Talked to him that whole first week of minicamp and just said, 'You're trying way too hard. You're a good player and that's why we drafted you. You just need to relax and have some fun. Stop trying so hard,"' Edwards said.

Now, he seems to be getting better every time out. Bowe had three catches for 42 yards in the season opener at Houston. Then against Chicago the next week he caught two balls for 22 yards and the team's only TD.

Damon Huard didn't throw a single pass his way in the first half against Minnesota on Sept. 23. But in the second half he started winging it to Bowe and Gonzalez, and the Chiefs turned a 10-0 deficit into a 13-10 win behind Bowe's five catches for 71 yards, including a beauty of a leaping, tiebreaking 16-yard TD reception.

"The second practice, you could see he got into a flow," Edwards said. "He was really good in the spring and you could just see that he was going to be the player he is going to be. Then he missed camp (in a holdout) and again he goes backwards. It's no fault of anybody. The thing is, when rookie players miss camp they don't come around as fast.

"Now, he's an exception. He's come around pretty fast for missing that much time in camp and not playing a whole lot in the preseason. All of a sudden in the second game, he started."

At this rate, he may soon be drawing double-coverage.

"They want to double me, they can double me," Bowe said. "My team is good. We're just getting around to proving it."

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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